This page maintained by David Gerard.

Rev Dr David, the Scientologists, Haddon Storey and Victoria University

a.r.s, November 1995

Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Keywords: scientologia delenda est
Subject: Rev Dr David, the Scientologists, Haddon Storey and Victoria University (LONG - 15K)
Reply-To: (David c/o Raven)
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]

QUICK SUMMARY: the threats (now acted upon) to my account WERE because
of our darling Church after all. How nice. This post explains what is
going on, for my dear friends at the a.r.s.c.c., and what I plan to do
if the account doesn't return forthwith.

If you've sent mail to me at, I haven't received
it and won't for the time being. Reason being, my account has been cut
off. This is the tale as we've worked it out so far. 

If and when I start shouting from the rooftops on this one, I will be
crossposting to (Electronic Frontiers Australia, a severely-
underfunded Australian version of the EFF -- an organisation dedicated to
freedom of communication in Australia). The relevance to this newsgroup
comes in the second half of this post.

Mail to me should be sent care of , with the
Subject: line starting (To David) or something similar. Raven is a friend
with a commercial account; I'll get printouts of any mail for me.

I am unable to read a.r.s, but am getting a.r.s Week In Review.

And don't forget the postal address:

David Gerard (Personal/Confidential)
PO Box 14428
MCMC Melbourne 8001

This is a rambling piece I'm writing on the subject, to try to explain it
to those who don't know anything about the whole mess we've been dealing
with over the past year.

I am posting it to a.r.s so that y'all know what's going on. Also, any
suggestions to clarify it to a non-a.r.s readership are welcomed.

I am still working on my access elsewhere (this public-access account or a
commercial account). I am taking this a bit easy because (to tell the
truth) I'm enjoying the holiday. But I'll be back soon(-ish). And there's
the Australian CoS Critics' Resource to build. Fun fun fun!

PREAMBLE -- what's happened so far

(For more detail on the whole issue, read

I started reading alt.religion.scientology in February 1995 -- when the
Church of Scientology used a trumped-up copyright writ to raid the house of
ex-Scientologist and staunch critic Dennis Erlich, take his computers and
research materials; an action which outraged vast numbers of people and led
to the present readership and size of a.r.s (Top Ten in readership, 400+

I read it more and started posting ... the Church then sent spurious
lawsuit threats to me (and about fifty others) over quoting six lines of
Church 'secret' scriptures, falsely claiming trade secret status for the
lines and that the excerpt was a copyright violation (six lines is *well*
within fair use).

This would have been a minor amusement (a Usenet posting is rarely
verifiable and sending someone email does NOT constitute legal service of
notice), except that the mailer (purportedly Church lawyer Helena Kobrin,
though there is some question as to this) then complained to my postmaster
and managed to get my access cut off for about twelve hours. I met with the
postmaster and explained my case and what had actually been happening (with
about a hundred pages of documentation), and my access was restored

This incident got me extremely angry at these people and I did more
research and got serious about informing the world of the activities of
the Church of Scientology. As well as posting regularly to the newsgroup
(I attempt to keep my posts to ones of substance), I wrote a newspaper
article on the Church for the student newspaper 'Xenu', the Victorian
Inter-Campus Edition 1995. I also take care to inform people of the
Church and its activities and the things they're doing to get the critics
off the net. "So, what have you been up to lately, David?"
"Weelllll ..."


My brief as a 1995 editor of the VUT student newspaper 'NoName' covers
anything and everything. This is a newspaper; all information is relevant.
A student's time at university is a powerfully formative experience in
their life; a student newspaper must reflect the fact that students will be
living in the real world in all its complexity.

There is the necessity of covering the Internet beat -- in the working
world of the future, where the students will end up, the Internet will be
in everything and we must be there for this and informing them of what goes
on there. The issues with the Church of Scientology look like being an
important part of shaping the future operating culture and methods of the
Internet. This is a matter of public concern.

In addition, religions such as the Church of Scientology tend to target the
lost, lonely and impressionable -- students can often fall into this
category. Immunisation by information is thoroughly appropriate. Violations
of the implicit social contracts of a multicultural society (that we all
have to get along livably) are important matters for public debate; a good
citizen has an obligation to be informed and active.


The Church is extremely keen to shut its critics the hell up. The raid on
Dennis Erlich was accompanied by lawsuits against his access provider
( and *their* access provider ( trying to remove
or severely restrict Erlich's access.

Critics who have chosen to remain anonymous -- to avoid undue interference
in their personal lives from the Church or its agents -- have been 'outed'
to the Internet by Church representatives. One critic, known as 'henry',
lost his job after a Church-employed private investigator went to his
employer with a sheaf of printouts of his posts, including a forged 'bomb
threat' that 'henry' was not actually the sender of. These people are

So it comes to my turn.


* The Church of Scientology, American branch (CoS-US). The Church is a
strictly hierarchical organisation; the 'handling' of the critics on the
Internet is directed from high up.

* The Church of Scientology, Australian branch (CoS-Aust). Small, powerless
and disliked both by the Australian public and the authorities, but
tolerated because Australians really are willing to let people have freedom
of religion.

* Haddon Storey, Minister for Education in the State of Victoria (HS).
Member of the Liberal Party, the right-wing party in Australia (directly
analogous to the Tories in Britain or the Republicans in America; and no,
I don't know why conservatives have tagged themselves 'Liberals'). An
important part of the Liberals' education policy is to shut down or render
impotent the student organisations at Australian universities. In Victoria,
legislation to this effect was introduced. The student organisations have
been fighting this vigorously.

* Victoria University of Technology (VUT). VUT reacts to the Ministry of
Education's gentlest suggestions much as one would to the merest whim of
the metaphorical 900-pound canary -- that is, they tend to overdo it. (In
one recent case, the SRC obtained three legal opinions all agreeing that
the affiliation fees for the National Union of Students were in fact
required to be paid by law. Nevertheless, the University Council passed a
motion not to pay the fee in any case -- because the Ministry of Education
had suggested not to. It looks like going to court -- has the University
resolved to illegaly default on a debt, and was the Ministry directing them
to break the law? The debate gets pretty vigorous around here ...) The
University Council feels that their position vis a vis the State Government
is precarious; they are keen to do anything the Ministry asks.

* The Student Representative Council of VUT Footscray (SRC). If I may blow
our horn just a little bit, we've been particularly effective this year --
the NUS affiliation fees mentioned above, publicity and press awareness;
managing to use student fees for student purposes (against and around the
legislation designed to prohibit such); effectiveness in personal
representation for students against the University; and so on. This is
approximately 180 degrees from the Ministry of Education line; it would be
reasonable to assume they're none too happy with our present mode of


CoS-US sends a pile of printouts *this* thick to CoS-Aust with which to
make a complaint. (Only the highest-level Church management are encouraged
to read the newsgroup.)

On November 8th, CoS-Aust make a formal complaint to HS -- claiming that
the posts are not academic usage and hence should be disallowed, and that
it is his job to do so. They also claim that certain posts are libelous and
that they will sue everyone they can if the poster (me) is not shut up
about this matter.

(We were told there was a lawsuit against VUT as well -- we haven't found
any details as yet, and have now been told there wasn't. Confused? Us too.
We're still checking this one out.)

(Whether or not the posts they have printouts of are actually mine, or some
rewritten or entirely fraudulent ones have been inserted, is unknown.
However, the Church has faked evidence in the past -- Guardian's Office
trials of the late seventies, 'Operation Snow White' -- and a mere printout
is *not* proof that anyone actually posted something. It's just a printout
of a file and could be anything at all.)

HS decided to have a Little Word with VUT. (Time frame of response to
CoS-Aust was approximately a week -- this is quite a quick response.) The
Ministry *suggested* to VUT that the SRC be asked to tone it down.

VUT reacted as one would to the casual whistle of the 900-pound canary. On
Friday 17th November, Michael Halls (Director of Student Services) sends
word about this to the SRC. I spend that afternoon frantically clearing my
account and letting a.r.s and my address book know what's happening.

On Thursday 23rd November, I received a letter from Information Technology
at VUT stating that my account has been locked until further notice, at the
direction of Professor Ian Rae, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (second in command
at VUT).

On Wednesday 29th November, I and Roberta Picton (SRC President) met with
Michael Halls (Director of Student Services) to discuss (and, hopefully,
quietly resolve) the matter.

Basically, the University wants me to stop using an account to talk about
Scientology on the Internet, because they are afraid of (a) the liability
issue (there is almost no case law on Internet liability in Australia, and
nobody wants to be first) and (b) possibly offending the Ministry of
Education. Mr Halls also alluded to veiled threats of disciplinary
'hearings' (with predetermined outcome) under University statutes,
basically for having dared to trouble them. (And *that* will look great
for VUT should we go public.)

I stated that we wished the account to reappear and I would cease and
desist using it for any non-squeaky-clean purpose; and that if it were not
returned, I would shout from the rooftops and call as absolutely much
attention towards the issue and towards VUT as possible. (I'd rather not
do this, but will if necessary.)

I wrote a letter to Ian Rae, politely requesting the return of my account
and promising that no non-SRC use would be made of the account; and that
to this end, I had obtained a private account for personal use. I am
presently awaiting a response.


My desired outcome would be for the account to magically reappear and for
me to start making my CoS-critical posts from another account, with nothing
said on the record and no precedent being set -- solve the problem
magically and by stealth. Then I'll be happy, the SRC will be happy, VUT
will be happy, the Ministry of Education will be happy, the CoS will be
unhappy. Ideal.

(I would have been happy to take my a.r.s postings elsewhere -- away from
my VUT account -- on a polite request through back channels. In fact, I
was planning to do so over the summer break ... But the CoS just had to
take the heavy-handed approach ...)

However, there are various hairy issues involved which mean we *may not* be
able to back down gracefully and with no loss of face on any side barring
the last. There is potential for a *lot* of bad precedent.

* ACADEMIC FREEDOM. This can be seen as a blatant case of governmental
interference in the communications of a university -- that the government
of the day, whoever it may be, must not be allowed to interfere at whim, 
and that University administrations must resist more for the sake of their
own University's reputation.

* S.R.C. FREEDOM OF OPERATION. The SRC's Internet connections are a
communications medium, exactly as our telephones, fax and mail are. The
University provides the Internet access, but the same can be said of the
phones and postal services. Can the SRC allow the University to screen our
usage of our communications lines? Would you allow your Administration to
monitor and screen your mail and phone calls?

(The Administration has been seeking closer control of the SRC all this
year; the SRC, as the one advocate of the students against the
Administration, has been resisting vigorously.)

* EMBARRASSMENT TO HADDON STOREY. There will be a Federal election within
three months and a State election within ten months (though it could
happen at any moment). Can Haddon Storey and the Victorian Liberal Party
afford to be linked to the Church of Scientology and a spurious complaint?
Will the student organisations wish to make political capital of this,
however subtly?


FIRST UP: Please wait. This posting is for information only. I'm waiting
for a response from VUT before I act myself.

Email to  is NOT the way to go. The account
has been locked on direction from high up in the University administration;
it's not a matter for Info Tech any more.

*Paper* mail (also faxed) to the University and to the Ministry of
Education may well be appropriate, expressing one's concern. Similar mail
to the media may also be appropriate. Use your initiative.

Raise this matter in one's own corner of academia. What precedents are being
set here? What will a Little Word from the Ministry of Education do to you
and your colleagues, should you go so far as to do something that may
displease them in any way?

I should add that every single academic or proto-academic I have mentioned
this incident to has been outraged. Should it blow up, I expect some fun
from this one.

Erm, that's about it. If you can think of anything else I could add to this
to explain it to a non-a.r.s readership, your suggestions would be welcomed.

a.r.s, I can't read it.

Cheers, all. And I hope to send tapes before year's end -- thanks to the
tape pals for the wonderful music of Ron. 'The Road To Freedom' in
particular is as horrible as I'd been led to believe. Arp Cola indeed.

-- Reverend Doctor David Gerard
   Prestige Elite Outside Broadcast Unit (Emergency Transmitter) (David c/o Raven)